Long before Ice Cream Sandwich was ever made official, there were rumors floating around of the update that would follow, Jelly Bean. We knew Ice Cream Sandwich would be a major update as even Google had said the next major update would bring the tablet- and phone-specific versions of the operating system back together. Other than that, though, we really didn't know anything about Ice Cream Sandwich – it was all just speculation. And we knew even less about Jelly Bean.

Ice Cream Sandwich was finally made official and available to the public in mid-November. And seven months later, in a move that surprised no one, Google made Jelly Bean (Android version 4.1) official at the I/O 2012 developers conference, which was held in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California last week. Google also unveiled two new Nexus devices, the Nexus 7 and Nexus Q, only one of which runs a consumer version of Android, making Nexus 7 is the halo device for Jelly Bean.

Some may argue Jelly Bean is a pretty significant update. Personally, I feel the combination of Project Butter, the new notification shade, Google Now and offline dictation is enough to warrant calling Jelly Bean a major OS update, making it a whole new version of Android, 5.0. But both the version number (4.1 instead of 5.0) and the set of new features allude that Google sees Jelly Bean as a minor – or incremental – update.

Either way, major or minor update, some things just don't add up. There is reason to believe Google may have something else up its sleeve for 2012, maybe another Android update. … Maybe.

I've lightly touched on the subject a few times in the past week, but it's worth noting that this is pure speculation on my part. There are no rumors to back this up directly, just a bunch of rumors that point in various directions and hint that something else may be up.

First, Android godfather Andy Rubin said in 2010 that Android updates would be slowed down to one per year. In the beginning, it seemed as if Android updates were hitting every couple months. The software was young, buggy and needed a ton of work, so the developers were working double time to appease its small user base. Rubin said updates would slow from roughly two updates per year to one.

Technically, we still haven't slowed down from two updates per year. Froyo (2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) were released in 2010. The tablet-specific Honeycomb (3.0) and tablet-smartphone fusion update, Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), were both released in 2011. And just last week Jelly Bean was made official. We still have six months (I'm including July since we're only five days in) before the end of the year in which Key Lime Pie – or the "K" version of Android – could be released.

But that's only one small piece of information that, for all we know, could mean absolutely nothing. The bigger piece of the puzzle that doesn't fit is the handful of rumors pointing at multiple Nexus devices this fall. For those that don't recall, the rumor alleged that Google would give partner manufacturers early access to new versions of Android instead of waiting to give them access when it's available to the public. We now know that the rumor was talking about the Platform Development Kid (PDK), which will be released to chipset makers and hardware manufacturers months in advance of an official Android software update announcement. Google said it was currently testing the PDK with several partners.

The other half of the rumor claimed that Google was working with as many as five manufacturers whom would release Nexus (or stock Android) devices and sell them sans contract in the Play Store. To be fair, these devices could launch as simply stock Android devices, not Nexus phones or tablets. If that's to be the case, no additional software update would be warranted.

We also heard similar rumors last year – that there would be multiple halo devices for a major Android update. Turns out, there was only one, the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung.

It's worth noting, though, that even if there aren't multiple Nexus devices this fall, there may be at least one. Google has a thing for releasing a Nexus phone each year, and while the Nexus 7 would technically qualify as the Nexus device for 2012, I still think there's a pretty good chance there will also be a Nexus phone this year. And that would warrant a software update. After all, what good is new hardware without shiny, new software to show off?

At this point, it could go either way. It's entirely possible, and it seems pretty likely if you consider the rumors. Then again, they are just that … rumors. I wouldn't expect another software update. But I wouldn't be surprised if we saw one later this year, along with the launch of a new Nexus phone. That said, it could cause some trouble for manufacturers and carriers when it comes to getting current devices up-to-date.

What say you, ladies and gents? Will there be another Android update and a Nexus phone in 2012? Or is the Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean all Google has for us this year? Speculate your hearts away in the comments below.

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38 Reactions to this post

"Think we'll see another Android update in 2012?"

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Josh Koon i really dont think they need to have one with only 1/10 of devices on ics i would like to see at least 50 percent on jelly bean or ever ics before they have another update!
Ralph Rojas I want to see ICS on sprint galaxy S2
Alfonso Manuel Avalos yep jelly bean is nice and smooth i would never compare ios to android and ive used both. and who ever said wp7 is better must love being limited on everything .
Joshua Martin I'm doubtful; just incremental updates on Jellybean, but a whole new Android version might hold off until Q2 2013.
Afshin Perjia Mahini who cares, wp7 is better !
Tyler Kirchman There better not still stuck on Gingerbread and doubting jellybean
Javier Delgado Matthew David Caplesok 1.xx and 2.xx PHONES---- 3.xx tablets... 4.xx tablet+phone...the ecosystem began to take form.. thats for android..i dont know the other platforms..
Jourdan Fletcher People love to criticize Google for updates. It is not Google's fault carriers and manufacturers delay the update. They can't push an ota update to every device because that will brick most because of customized ui's I.E touchwiz and HTC sense. The reason iPhones are updated is because one company makes the phone, so stop comparing the two. Nexus' will always be updated first because Google has control over those devices
Josh Pieters JellyBean is so much tighter than iOS in so many ways.
Mykal Parent It's not googles fault people. The manufacturers and carriers are the ones to blame. Buy a Nexus device and you will get all the updates you need. Currently running Jelly Bean on my galaxy nexus and it is AWESOME.
John Zanatta Android 4.1 has been a pleasure to use over the past week or so. I'm looking forward to another update this year. As to why all the other phones aren't getting updates from Google? They are, but the manufacturers have to update their overlayed skin followed by the carrier rejecting the software and asking for a redo because there isn't enough of "their" content included or whatever the reason my be. Google does their part as far as I'm concerned.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Of course when a newer phones released with an update already preloaded .lol everyone knows how Androids are abandoned as far as updates as soon as newer models are released.
Patrick George Jr. One of the biggest problems with android are the carriers period end of story. Apple just didn't bend to carriers will it not in there DNA
Adrian Anguiano Lol that's why the galaxy nexus is getting banned, and a majority of android phones have not received a ICS update. Why can't android make multiple updates for all their phones including carriers? If android is so amazing why can't they do a simple update to 4.1? Please elaborate nerds.
L.j. Costanzo I'm still waiting for ICS on my device!
Brandon Johnson Don't get mw wrong it's a good os, and since apple clearly isn't tryin to change ios anyime soon, android has been given the opportunity to become better than it has, let's just not get delusional and say that a majority of android users own one because they knew what it was before hand.
Brandon Johnson Apple and android fanboys alike make me laugh. Android has the marketshare because it's on everything from watches to microwaves, not because it's the best os ever.
Michael Behonest Notnice Chambers Does it really matter if they do release another update? Chances is we won't get a FULLY WORKING and GOOGLE SUPPORTED version on most phones. I JUST got ics and thats because i bought a new phone. My epic touch is still waiting and i didn't want a flawed rooted version.
Odin Johnson Google needs more Nexus phones soon. I'm not buying another carrier branded Android phone. I would rather get the updates directly from Google!
Johnny Edmonds iOS fan boys make me laugh. Google owns the market share for a reason. The world does not agree with you. Have fun with iOS 6. I've been enjoying most of the new features since 2010. :)
David Castaneda Google needs to make their updates available to everyone at the time of first release. having to wait months in the hopes of getting a previous version when a New update sucks.... I am still waiting for ICS update. It will probably be another year before I see Jelly bean on my phone provided my phone will get the new update....Hey Google, if you are going to put out another version, can you please make sure that everyone has the most recent version first!!!????!!!!!
Jose Angel Santiago Im still waiting for ICS on my epic 4g touch.
Anthony Bailey God forbid Android can't follow the "lead" of iOS ... implementing innovative and groundbreaking updates in 2012 such as turn-by-turn navigation and reject call by text message... WAIT! My bad... Android had that many light years ago. Troll somewhere else you envious Crapple iTroll aka Clemente.
George Millhouse Amie ICS is a great OS you dont know what you are talking about
George Millhouse Clemente go back to your iSheep
Matthew David Caples I'm confused as to why 4.1 got named and 3.1 & 3.2 didn't...but then again the whole OS name/number across ALL platforms never made sense!!
Jarred Gandel Clearly phonedog hasn't heard of Jellybean....
DAvid RC Really doesn't matter seeing as Android updates are held PRISONER by the Carriers and the phone Manufacturers for 6-18 whole months AFTER Google has released it! That is so messed up ! Android should offer "over the aiir" updates for ALL of their devices without interference of some pre-existing contract between them and the carriers. Apple at least has sense enough to provide DIRECT updates for it's devices through computer without carrier manipulation!
Anand Gohil yes, we will see key lime pie :)
Ahnonny Nguyen @Clemente or maybe android is good at innovating to keep the users up to date on their new features.
Devin Martinez They're gonna run out of pastries lol
Christopher Wesley I sure hope not. They are running a one man race because it's not like ios is anything special.
Antonio Vazquez lol at the first comment
Sammie Ilesanmi Yeah, my phone is giving me a lot of problems.
Amie Lee Greenway Hope it's better than ICS! That totally f'ed up my system!
Clemente Miklavchich Indeed, because android is so bad it needs updates all the time

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